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This.! The computer added that exclamation mark. Really. It’s very intuitive. Did today need a pot of chicken and dumplings simmering on the stove? Mine did. It was all I could do to keep myself from devouring the lot, standing at the stove, and the only deterrent was the risk of incinerating my tongue. It may have been worth it. I tried to take pictures. I mean I did, but I could barely focus. The steam was making me ravenous, like that cartoon steam that winds out of delicious things and swirls up your nose. I snapped a few, grabbed a fork and took the bowl to the couch for some alone time. Then I came back for a rendezvous with the pot. This feels like the sort of thing I should have grown up with, but it wasn’t. My childhood never knew a dumpling. These are the deal deal – sticky dough you drop by the spoonful onto the surface of the simmering stew,Continue reading

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Those of you who have spent some time here (thank you!) know that I am prone to making recipes just because I love their names. (Case in point: this is really just a cake, but don’t you just want to make it immediately?) I’m not sure what ‘bang bang’ means in this case; it’s not that I actually want to off the turkey. (Except maybe I do. Enough already.) I’m a (big) fan of the turkey sandwich, on homemade buttered bread with cranberry sauce, but by this time in the program any turkey I have lingering in my fridge or freezer I’d rather not resemble the original meal, thank you. Also, I’m about ready for a break from bread and cheese, and maybe a big, crunchy salad – so long as it’s one with personality, and dousing it in peanut sauce with a bit of a chili kick instead of dressing can’t hurt.

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I’ve been cooking a lot of duck lately. It seems to be the new thing – and a good option when you want something special for Thanksgiving but don’t (for some crazy reason) want to cook an entire turkey. I love turkey leftovers, and so roasting a monsterous Big Bird is never a problem around here. Duck is a little different – it has thicker skin than a chicken or turkey, with a layer of fat underneath. The bonus here is that every duck comes with a free jar of duck fat, which will keep in your fridge indefinitely and make ethereal roasted potatoes or duck fat fries. The trick – to poke the skin with a bamboo skewer in a few places (without piercing the meat underneath – this is easy to do if you just pinch the skin and poke it through) to give the fat a few extra places to escape. Then start roasting the bird, pour off the rendered fat aboutContinue reading

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One thing I love about my job is that it pushes me out of my comfort zone in small ways… if it were up to me, I’d leave Chinese food to the pros (and Vietnamese food, and Thai) – part of what makes it taste so good is the not knowing what exactly went into it, the experience of making ginger beef / lemon chicken / mu shu pork night after night in well-seasoned woks and skillets. Who am I to pull off a proper batch of lemon chicken? We talked about citrus on CBC this morning, and with Chinese New Year coming up on Friday, I figured I’d give it a go. And really, the ingredients that go into this are not at all exotic – you need not even venture down the aisle of the grocery store that has coconut milk and rice noodles and other no longer particularly extraordinary ingredients. It’s is really no more than chicken and soy sauce and lemonContinue reading

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Let me preface this by saying the above photo does not do this chicken justice. Also: I hope you don’t mind more photos of my PJ pants. ‘Tis the season for braising; short, grey and chilly days call for long, slow cooking. When so much time is spent puttering around at home, packing up decorations and weaning oneself off holiday chocolate, it’s the perfect time to slide a piece of meat into the oven and let it warm the house as it slowly cooks. Sure, you could put it into the slow cooker, but I love the dark stickiness you get from a pot, and the satisfaction of having it simmering in the oven while you pad around the house in your woolies. We made this on a day spent entirely in PJs. This chicken braised in milk with lemon, garlic, sage and cinnamon comes from Jamie Oliver – and if you look at his bird, it’s pretty gorgeous – dark and crisp and delicious-lookingContinue reading

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My friend and neighbour, Emily, has a single mint plant in front of her house that’s the size of a small shrubbery. She encourages me to grab handfuls of it if I’m ever walking by. Because she brought a few jars of beet preserves to me last week – pickled beets, beet relish and chutney – I pondered what I might make with mint that would go with the tangy beets, knowing she had the same plethora of mint and pickled beets at home too. And so I took a handful or two and whizzed it into a slurry with plain yogurt, the juice of a lemon (the zest would be great too), some ginger and spices; yogurt acts as a flavour carrier while tenderizing chicken – you can leave it in the fridge for a day to get to know each other, or freeze the lot – the marinade protects the chicken from freezer burn. Thread the chunks onto soaked bamboo skewers and theyContinue reading

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Butter chicken and naan are totally gaga for each other, don’t you think? It’s tough to have one without the other. And so I wrapped butter chicken in naan dough, then baked it into a sort of butter chicken calzone. With or without cheese, it’s one of our new favourite things to eat around here. I originally wrote this recipe for the April issue of Parents Canada – streamlining it for print with the use of bottled sauce. You could, of course, use any butter chicken recipe you like, or even use takeout. Once cold, it will easily spoon into the middle of a circle of dough without running amok; you can then top it with a wee mound of grated cheese and seal the pocket to bake into a gooey pocket – I want to give them a go on the grill, and see if the added char will make them even more reminiscent of the smokey flavour naan gets from a traditional tandooriContinue reading

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How pretty is this? It’s my niece’s birthday today. (Happy birthday Em! I luvs ya.) When she was off for spring break, she came over to help me cook and style food for a couple of days; we played Green Day and made Chicken Cacciatore. She wanted to help out, and so I printed off this recipe and set her to make it – all on her own. I tried to stay out of it and let her figure it out. I find it interesting to watch people – especially those who aren’t everyday cooks – navigate a recipe. She did a great job, and was a bit of a perfectionist, in fact, carefully placing single pieces of bacon in the hot pan, spacing them evenly, muttering under her breath when one piece folded over. She stood in wait over the pan, jumping at each spatter, turning each piece of bacon as it cooked. It was adorable. We’ve done a lot of baking together, andContinue reading

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Who else is prompted to clean their basement when freezing rain insists on falling on the second weekend in April? And who else, once downstairs rummaging through the growing pile of stuff that is the even scarier grown-up version of the monster in the basement, finds small appliances they didn’t even realize they had? I discovered that not only did we already own a humidifier – and I didn’t need to go drop $70 for a new one – we do, in fact, have a slow cooker smaller than the big oval 6 quart one I keep hauling out every time I want to cook something slowly. It’s like Christmas down there, I tell ya. (Likewise for the guys who pick up our recycling this week.)

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